Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Dr. Carl J. Cuneo


The purpose of this study is to determine the factors which bring about the occupational assimilation of Polish immigrants in Metro Toronto. As our review of assimilation studies indicated, much of the successful overall integration of immigrants is dependent upon the nature of their occupational penetration into the host society's economic institutional structure. Furthermore, as a number of studies have pointed out, the extent of ethnic affiliation may be of little value in explaining the occupational mobility of ethnic individuals. For these and other reasons, we have attempted to determine the, process of occupational penetration (that is, occupational attainment) of Polish newcomers in terms of the influence exerted by structural and market variables.

The data on which this study is based were collected in Metro Toronto by the Survey Research Centre, York University between 1969 and 1970. Our sample was comprised of 187 Polish immigrants who were selected on the basis of their Polish birth.

Initially, the Blishen occupational score was determined for each respondent. These were then grouped into three occupational standing leveIs: the unskilled and semi-skilled, the skilled, and the white-collar levels. Subsequently, occupational attainment (that is, the occupational performance of the immigrants based upon a comparison between the first entrance status occupation after entry into Canada and the present, occupational standing) was determined on the basis of movement between these three occupational standing levels. As a result, four occupational attainment status groups emerged: the stable white collars, the stable working class, the upwardly mobiles, and the downwardly mobiles.

The focus of our an analysis was an attempt to establish those factors which determine the occupational attainment, that is, the extent of the occupational penetration, of the Toronto Polish-born into the societal economic structure.

Our findings indicated that immigrants with a non-sponsored status, higher education, greater English language fluency, a formerly urban background, and an occupationally beneficial length of stay in entrance status, were more likely to belong to the stable white-collar occupational status group or at least tended to be occupationally upwardly mobile. It is therefore because of the influence of such structural and market variables that these individuals were the most likely to penetrate the societal occupational structure. On the other hand, immigrants characterized by lower education, former small-town or rural background, a lower level of English language fluency, sponsored immigration, and job instability without a corresponding rise in occupational status, tended to fall into the stable working class occupational status group or were downwardly mobile. Again, it was because of the influence exerted by these structural and market variables that these immigrants were least able to penetrate the societal occupational structure.

The analysis indicated therefore that much of the occupational assimilation and life chances of the Polish immigrants (as evidenced by the extent of their occupational attainment since their arrival in Canada) was due to the nature of the influence of these variables rather than whether or not they severed or maintained their ethnic community ties. Moreover, the findings would suggest that the extent of the equality of opportunity of the Polish within the economic structure, and subsequently their position within the country's stratification system ought to be determined more in terms of the influence exerted by structural and market variables than the extent of the ethnic affiliation of members of this cultural group. In turn, this would furthermore suggest that the explanatory value of ethnicity decreases in importance when determining the degree of the occupational assimilation of these Polish immigrants.

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